Updated on: 01/30/2024
If you have been involved in a minor car accident, you may be wondering if hiring a personal injury lawyer is necessary. The truth is you can probably handle a claim involving a minor crash – but it may not be wise if you suffered any injuries. Hiring an attorney may also be a good idea if your case is complicated in ways that go beyond the severity of the crash.
Even if you believe the damage is minor, there’s no harm in consulting an injury lawyer. During a free consultation, a lawyer can review your case and offer insight and advice, including whether your claim has legal issues you may not have considered.
Here are some scenarios and reasons to hire a lawyer after a minor auto accident in Seattle, Washington, to help you make your decision.
The term “minor car accident” is a bit of a misnomer and can be misleading. Some people think a minor crash means it caused no injuries and only property damage. To others, “minor” may refer more to the severity of injuries and/or damage. To one person, totaling a car but escaping a crash unscathed is a serious crash; to another, it’s minor because no one was hurt.
State and federal agencies that track and report traffic accident data separate accidents by severity. This is determined by the most severe injury suffered by any person involved in the crash. Police note any visible or suspected injuries and their severity using the KABCO scale.
This scale was established by the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria.
Every state creates its own definitions for the broad KABCO elements, and some even add categories like “unknown.” The Washington State Department of Transportation divides traffic accidents into five categories based on severity. These categories are very similar to the standard KABCO scale.
Under this crash severity model, an accident is classified as fatal if any injury results in death within 30 days of the crash.
This includes any injury that isn’t fatal and results in one or more of these conditions:
A crash also receives this classification if any person is removed from the scene unconscious.
This means there is an injury at the scene that is obvious or visible other than fatalities and the serious injuries above. It can include abrasions, bruises, and minor cuts.
This refers to crashes when an injury is suspected based on the person’s behavior or complaints of pain or reported by someone involved in the crash.
These minor crashes cause only property damage with no known or suspected injury and no reason to believe anyone was harmed.
Even if an accident seems minor, a personal injury lawyer may still be recommended for a variety of reasons. Many injuries can take days or weeks to develop, so you should not assume you are uninjured just because you feel fine afterward. A lawyer can also help you determine who may be liable for your damages and how to recover compensation if your case is complicated.
If you were involved in a PDO crash with no injuries, you probably do not need a lawyer to assist with your insurance claim. However, you may need help even in these cases if you suffered very expensive property damage, your claim was denied, or you are being blamed for the accident.
Here are common scenarios in which you should at least consult a Seattle car accident attorney, even if your injuries or the damage were minor.
Don’t write off any soreness, headaches, tight muscles, or difficulty concentrating after a seemingly minor crash. These vague or minor issues may actually be symptoms of real injuries. The shock and adrenaline following an accident can mask pain and other symptoms. Some injuries simply take longer to become apparent.
After an accident, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention to ensure any injuries you sustained are diagnosed and treated properly.
Because you aren’t sure how serious your injuries may be, or if you sustained any at all, you should consult a lawyer if you have any soreness or pain following your crash.
A car crash can easily aggravate pre-existing conditions. Certain conditions also increase your risk of sustaining injuries in a crash that you may not notice right away.
High-risk conditions in a crash include:
When a pre-existing condition is aggravated by a crash or plays a role in an injury you sustain, you are still entitled to compensation. However, these cases often require the help of a personal injury lawyer and medical experts. The insurance company will try to blame your injuries on a pre-existing condition to deny your claim.
Even if your crash only involved property damage or minor injuries, it can become complex if multiple vehicles were involved or liability is shared. When multiple parties are blaming others, it can be difficult to reach a fair settlement amount.
An injury lawyer will investigate the accident, determine the role each defendant played in the crash, and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Washington uses a pure comparative negligence rule. This means you can recover compensation even if you are found 99% to blame for your crash. However, your recovery is reduced according to your share of fault.
If you are being blamed for the collision, it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you fight back against blame-shifting tactics, build a strong case, and pursue fair compensation.
Claims are denied for a wide range of reasons, some of them valid. If your claim is denied, it’s time to consult an attorney. An experienced lawyer will learn why your claim was denied and fight for a reversal. They will understand the documentation and evidence needed to support your claim. A lawyer also has experience with negotiations and recognizing signs of bad faith.
Consulting a lawyer after a motor vehicle accident can prevent you from making mistakes that harm your case or accepting a lowball offer that doesn’t cover all your damages. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a Seattle car accident lawyer. We will listen to your story and help you explore the next steps in your case.
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